Traveling through Iceland is like a surreal dream. There’s a feeling of being on the edge of the Earth, entering an alternate universe and beginning the descent to the center of the earth all at the same time. Land of fire and ice is a very appropriate title seeing as your body can be soaking in beautiful thermal waters while your face gets beaten to a wind-burned pulp at the same time.
I had a week in between finding out I’m heading to Iceland and packing all my essentials for the takeoff. That means, a week to learn everything about a country with an environment I’ve never experienced before. I traveled mid-June, which in other parts of the world means summer. In Iceland, June weather means “I’m on the border of late fall and early winter.”
The Wardrobe: I read countless articles suggesting I bring LAYERS. The meaning of layers vastly differs from person to person. It can be a few light fabrics or a recreation of your favorite onion. Layers here means something in the middle of the two. One KEY piece of information is to have at least one layer that is insulated/provides ample heat at all times. The item doesn’t necessarily have to be ultra-thick. Keep the focus on material that traps heat well. Wool or cashmere are appropriate examples.
Bring a lined jacket and a large scarf. A large pashmina will be useful wrapping around your neck and covering your face when the winds pick up. I frequently wrapped my neck and face with my husband’s cashmere Burberry scarf. If it got a bit warmer, I would open up the front of my jacket and loosen the scarf down the front. Also, a hat and gloves are also imperative! While I wore jeans a few days, I also opted for a pair of warm wool tights and a cashmere dress. The warm materials were my saviors! The tights kept me warmer than my jeans ever could!
Additionally, bring a nice, thick MOISTURIZER. The air will seep the moisture out of your face quickly.
The Sights: If you’re there for a week+, I’d highly recommend renting a car and bringing along some solid camera equipment. Check out Lumoid if you’re in need of a few new lenses or camera bodies. We didn’t get a 4WD, but next time we visit we definitely will. Many of the roads off the main highway are rocky or sandy, making an SUV ideal if you want to explore all the remote areas. A good way to get plenty of varieties is to get on the Golden Circle tour. I usually shy away from very touristy activities when traveling, but this is well worth it.
The vastly different sights stimulate even the most easily bored. We stayed at 101 hotel while in Reykjavik, which was cozy, high-end, and with a beautiful lobby! The location was perfect, and everything was within walking distance. While in Reykjavik, make sure to check out Friðrik V restaurant. You won’t be disappointed, I promise! Outside of Reykjavik, we chose Hotel Glymur for their spectacular villas overlooking Whale fjord. The views from the hot tub are unbeatable, and I would highly recommend checking them out.
We took a helicopter ride on our last day to check out the highlands, and if you have the means, I recommend swinging for the experience. The photography opportunities are boundless! It was particularly useful for us to do this because we didn’t have a car that could handle the terrain otherwise. And last but not least, obviously stop in to savor the glory of the Blue Lagoon. We spent the morning soaking in the thermal water and slathering ourselves with algae before having lunch at the restaurant and heading back to Reykjavik.